Reviews

February 24, 2015

The Post-Apocalyptic Present: On Quan Barry’s ‘She Weeps Each Time You’re Born’ 0

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The history of Vietnam is another quagmire. And upon this sucking, unholy ground a novel is built.

February 20, 2015

The Joy of Crewnecks: Marie Kondo’s ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up’ 4

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Marie Kondo has a method for cleaning and reorganizing your home that might be crazy and might be brilliant, but works either way.

January 28, 2015

The Existentialist Swimmer: Daniel Galera’s ‘Blood-Drenched Beard’ 0

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Blood-Drenched Beard has at its center a fascinatingly headstrong character, one who swims perfectly but flounders on land, who strives for connection with his grandfather while cutting himself off from family — and one we root for despite not knowing his name.

January 28, 2015

Conversation as Performance: On ‘BOMB: The Author Interviews’ 2

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Writer interviews serve a strangely utilitarian purpose. “Inspire” might be a thin word in our cynical literary present, but dare I say that reading these conversations made me want to handwrite excerpts on index cards and lean them against books on my shelves.

January 23, 2015

The Path to Destruction: On Sarah Gerard’s ‘Binary Star’ 1

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The prose becomes wonderfully cyclic, like the plot, and it’s unclear whether the universe, she, or society is the thing that’s sick.

January 22, 2015

A Scorching Farce: Brock Clarke’s ‘The Happiest People in the World’ 0

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The first law of farce is that bodies in motion will eventually collide, and Clarke orchestrates the inevitable collision by beckoning each character from across the world and assembling them at the Lumber Lodge under the watchful eye of the moose.

January 15, 2015

To Make Us Feel Less Alone: On ‘The David Foster Wallace Reader’ 30

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Wallace’s complex mind and neurotic tendencies found their most successful (i.e. accessible and popular) outlet in nonfiction, and that although history may remember his novels and stories as his most important contributions to literature, his nonfiction is more successful in doing what he aimed to do with literature and more representative of who he was as a person and a writer.

January 8, 2015

Loneliness, Interrupted: Edith Pearlman’s Honeydew 0

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Pearlman repeatedly thrills us by opening up secret worlds, and it’s because of the exquisite care with which these worlds are formed that we come to care deeply about her people (“characters” just doesn’t cut it).

November 28, 2014

The Elusive Qualities of Dreams: On Haruki Murakami’s ‘The Strange Library’ 6

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Everything that comes to pass in ‘The Strange Library,’ like in so much of Murakami’s fiction, questions the differences between what is real and what is not, and whether such a distinction even matters.

November 28, 2014

Her Well-Spent Adulthood: On Meghan Daum’s ‘The Unspeakable’ 2

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In its own, understated, comic way, The Unspeakable is a very ambitious book, one that attempts to chart a personal evolution, while at the same time acknowledging that the idea of personal growth is at best absurd.